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How to make your own sparrow puppet from The Fir Tree

 Learn how to make your own sparrow puppet to join the woodland creatures in our family show in the Globe Theatre this Christmas

4 minute read

Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale of the same name, our upcoming festive show The Fir Tree is set in a wintry forest – and we need your help to populate it with some beautiful creatures!

Follow the nine steps below to make your own sparrow puppet out of simple materials you can find at home. The instructions work best when used with the accompanying ‘how-to’ video. The video shows you how to make the basic puppet shape; and the instructions below help you add a beak, head and eyes.

When it’s finished, bring your sparrow along to the show. We can’t wait to see your wonderful creations!

A sparrow made out of cardboard hanging in front of the Shakespeare's Globe logo.

One of Sam’s sparrow designs hanging in our foyer. Photographer: Pete Messum

You will need...

  • Sheet of cardboard (about about 50cm by 30cm, a little larger than A3). You might find some lying around your house – an old cardboard box is perfect to make this puppet!
  • A pencil
  • Some glue – almost any type of glue will do; super glue, pva glue, a hot glue gun (and you only need a little)
  • Some paper tape or masking tape
  • A pair of scissors or a craft knife
  • A cutting mat
  • The patterns at the end of these instructions, printed on A4 paper

Optional

  • Paint and paint brush for decoration
  • A bamboo cane or length of dowl (this isn’t essential, you can make a hand-held version without one)

Tutorial

1) Take your cardboard, scissors and cutting mat. Using the patterns on the last two pages of these instructions, cut all the pattern pieces out of the cardboard.

Please make sure you take care when cutting out the pattern pieces and get an adult to help you.

The “WINGS” piece has a mirror line on it. You will need to mirror the pattern when you cut it out, so you end up with a complete bird silhouette.

TOP TIP: Cardboard has a grain to it: you can see the lines running up and down your sheet when you look closely. If you look at the printed pattern you can see an arrow pointing up, this tells you which way you want the grain to run. This is important when it comes to making the bird flap its wings.

TOP TIP: You’ll notice that the two body pieces have the grain running in different ways, because of this when you tape them together they will get a lot stronger.

2) Take the two pieces labeled “BODY”. Lay these on top of each other and tape around the edged to hold them together.

3) Attach the body to the wings using a couple of drops of glue. Attach it vertically in the centre of the bird – a top-centre position is perfect.

Two hands bend a piece of cardboard, cut into the shape of a bird.

‘Find where you want the birds wings to flap, close to the “body” but still part of the wings, and make a fold.’

4) Time to make the head. This bit can be a bit fiddly!

Take the pieces labelled “HEAD” and “CREST”. Bend the crest around the head of the bird. (If you have cut this against the grain correctly it should be quite easy.) Use a little bit of glue or tape to hold this in place. Make sure you keep the notch in the head clear.

TOP TIP: Cardboard tends to fold and roll better when it is cut perpendicular to the grain. Why not try cutting a few strips with the grain going different ways and see which is easier to roll.

5) Now to make the beak and eyes. Cut out three “BEAK” pieces and attach them to each other (a bit of glue or wrapping it in tape would work). Take the “Eye” pieces and roll them up against the grain. You should end with short round pieces, about the thickness of a pencil. Use a bit of tape to hold them in place and then paint them black (or whatever colour you like). Put the beak and eyes aside for the moment.

6) Attach the head to the body with some glue. The little notch in the head shape should fit nicely on the width on the top of the body. Once the head is attached, glue on the eyes and the beak.

Designer Sam Wilde with his sparrow puppet.

Sam shows off one of his completed sparrow puppets.

7) Almost there! Hopefully you can see your bird starting to take shape. Now you can either attach your stick by looping some tape over the stick and attaching it to the length of the body piece.

OR

If you don’t have a stick, then make yourself a small loop of cardboard and attach this to the body, you can put it on your finger and have a lovely bird ring!

8) Time to make the bird flap. Find where you want the birds wings to flap, close to the “body” but still part of the wings, and make a fold. You can make this fold really loose at first, and push it up and down until you have a good crease. Repeat for the other wing.

9) You’re done! Lift your bird up and down and see the lovely thing flap. But be careful, if you do it too fast its likely to fly off and take you for a ride!

Don’t forget to decorate and share this wonderful bird on social media with #TheFirTree @the_globe and bring it along to The Fir Tree this Christmas to help us fill our wonderful forest!

Want a print-out of these instructions? Download a PDF copy!

FINIS.


A family show for all ages,  The Fir Tree plays in our Globe Theatre from 15 – 31 December 2022 as part of our Winter 2022/23 season.

If you’d like to see more of Sam’s designs, you can find them at his website Cardboard Adventures.